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April marks that time of year when you can expect a whole new raft of employment changes. And 2020 is no exception with the government’s Good Work Plan. This article explains what the Good Work Plan is, why it’s happening now, the employment law changes it’s introducing and what you need to know and do as an employer.

 

What Is the Good Work Plan?

 

Remember the Taylor review? That was the 2018 government-issued independent review of modern working practices carried out by Matthew Taylor. The Good Work Plan report has been written in response building on some of the recommendations made to tackle new and emerging issues in the modern workplace. And it’s also the vehicle intended to capture the prime minister’s commitment not to maintain and enhance workers’ rights following the UK’s departure from the EU.

The Good Work Plan sets out how the government intends to do this with a clear vision for the future of the UK labour market as one that: “rewards people for hard work, that celebrates good employers and that is ambitious about boosting productivity and earnings potential in the UK.”

 

What Does the Good Work Plan Aim to Deliver?

 

The plan commits to a range of policy and legislative changes to ensure the following key deliverables:

  1. workers can access fair and decent work
  2. both employers and workers are clear about their employment relationships
  3. companies and individuals continue to benefit from the rise in more flexible and varied ways of working without the erosion of key worker protections
  4. the enforcement system is fair and fit for purpose

Based on the idea that all workers deserve quality work, the Good Work Plan aims to build on five foundational qualities that constitute good work. These are: satisfaction, fair pay, participation and progression, well-being, safety and security and voice and autonomy. You’ll find these themes reflected in the changes that come into effect in April 2020.

 

The Changes You’ll Need to Make

 

There’s quite a lot to do before 6th April 2020. From adapting when you issue contracts to how employees request more stable working hours and a whole lot more. It’s all outlined below.

 

Issuing Contracts of Employment

 

From the 6th April 2020 you’ll have to issue a contract of employment on the employee’s first day of work at the latest. Both employees and workers will also need to be provided with a written statement outlining their terms of engagement.

 

Working Hour Requests

 

The government recognises that flexibility works for many businesses and their employees and does not want to stifle this. However, some employers have used the rise of flexible working arrangements to offload business risk onto their employees through zero hours’ contracts. And other organisations have expected significant flexibility from workers while offering little in return.

To counteract these issues it will be a legal requirement for businesses to empower all workers to be able to request a more predictable and stable working contract after 26 weeks of service. This could mean requesting greater certainty around the days the individual works or the number of hours. Employers have three months to respond to any request.

 

Continuous Service Shortens

 

In the current system, employment rights are accrued over time. People who work intermittently for the same employer can find it difficult to gain or access some of these rights due to difficulty building up continuous service.

A one-week break in service allows employers to start an employee’s continuous service record from zero so employees end up back at square one without any employment rights, even if they’ve worked for the same employer on and off for years.

You’ll only be able to declare a break in service after an employee has not worked for you for four weeks or more. This is intended to make it easier for employees to accrue rights.

 

Holiday Pay Calculations Are Changing – Again

 

All employees are entitled to paid time off as a basic protection. However, some individuals and employers are unaware of holiday pay entitlements, highlighting a need for more and better information. There’s also evidence that some individuals have been prevented from taking their leave and that seasonal workers have been impacted by the 12 week reference period used to calculate holiday pay.

To counteract these issues the government is providing:

  • an awareness campaign for workers and employers
  • new guidance to help businesses comply with the law
  • an updated and improved holiday pay calculator

When calculating holiday pay, you’ll need to expand the timeframe used from 12 to 52 weeks.

 

Hospitality Staff Must be Allowed to Keep Their Tips

 

Although most businesses act in good faith and pass tips on to workers a small number of employers do not. Legislation will ban businesses from retaining tips resulting in a fairer deal for workers and a level playing field for employers.

 

Recruitment Agencies Cannot Use Pay Between Assignments

 

Agency workers used to be able to give up their right to equal pay (in comparison to permanent staff doing the same or like work) in return for a contract guaranteeing pay between assignments.

Investigations revealed this was not happening for some agency workers who were on long assignments. This effectively removed their right to equal pay without the benefit of between-contract pay as there was no between-contract period.

You can no longer use this type of contract to guarantee equal wages with comparable permanent workers for all long-term agency workers.

 

More Consultation Rights For Employees

 

Employees are already entitled to be consulted on major workforce reforms like restructuring. However, to set up information and consultation arrangements in a business, 10% of employees must support the idea. This is dropping to just 2% with a minimum threshold of 15 employees in agreement.

 

What Next?

 

To enforce all these legislative changes, the government is bolstering the penalties businesses will receive if they flout the law. Instead of a maximum of £5,000 for an aggravated breach, this figure will rise to a maximum of £20,000. And where employment rights are repeatedly ignored by the same employer, tougher penalties will ensue.

This makes it vitally important that you make the relevant changes to your HR policies, processes and paperwork before 6th April 2020.

Get an experienced helping hand with all this change. Contact Crosse HR on 0330 555 1139 or at hello@crossehr.co.uk to ensure you’re compliant.